As I listen to this unheralded piece of nasty, morbid, old school death, one word comes to mind: Spewage. That’s the best way to describe what you’ll be getting here. Morbus Chron is a Swedish band playing filthy death metal like Autopsy, Death and Massacre. This breaks the current trend of following in the footsteps of legendary countrymen Entombed, Dismember. It’s still plenty retro but not the typical Swedish retro. Basically, their raucous debut Sleepers in the Rift sounds like something spewing from the underground in the late 80’s and it’s wonderfully repellant, low-fi, non-techy and makes you feel like you need to be disinfected and vaccinated. It’s underproduced, muddy, discordant and vile all the way but somehow manages to be catchy. What more could one ask for? Nothing!
After a creepy lead in, things get crusty immediately with “Coughing in the Coffin.” This had me smiling right away with its shaky, raw guitar tone and the insane, raspy vocals. After a quick start it devolves into a great, ominous doom riff at 1:50 and plods along like that for just the right amount of time before kicking back into sloppy, frenetic thrash speeds again. It’s an instantly likeable old school death gem that will jangle and discombobulate the senses. Followup “Creepy, Creep, Creeping” is more of the same with big thundering drums and its a thing of old-time beauty when vocalist Robba shows his Tom G. Warrior appreciation by adding a heartfelt “Ew!” “Bleh!” “Blarg!” after every lead break. His vocals sound quite rabid, and you can almost see the foam flying as he screams (especially from 3:15 onward). All the songs have an endearing old school approach and a few really end up being mini-classsics like “Red Hook Horror” (relentlessly hammering, discordant death attack), “The Hallucinating Dead” (outstanding riff patterns that swarm and menace) and “Ways of Torture” (great homage to the first Death album).
The riffing by Edde and Robba is crude and unrefined but catchy and engagingly chaotic. This isn’t the technical fret-fest that can heard on many modern death metal albums but the sloppy, going-off-the-rails quality of much of it makes it tons of fun. Robba’s vocals are more in line with those of Evil Chuck (Death) than the l0w-register grunters that are so common these days. He screams, wails and wretches but rarely opts for the full on Cookie Monster schtick.
The production might have cost as much as a few cases of cheap beer and an old Slayer CD. It sounds like a rusty garbage can with a demon inside, being thrown down a long steel staircase. It’s a festering death metal soup with the vocals way out in front and drums that sound like they were recorded in a hallway. Echo city baby! I guess that’s the DIY way of approximating the sound of the titular rift. As rough and unpolished as the mix is, I honestly can’t imagine this material being presented any other way. Its soupy death and deserves a soupy mix.
A very pleasant and ferocious blast from the past, Morbus Chron is onto something here. If you love the insanity of Autopsy, this is a going to bring a deranged smile to your mug. Strange how a retro death album can be such a refreshing change from the other retro death albums. AMG would view that as a scorching indictment of the metal scene and the paucity of original ideas. As I’m not in the mood to be cynical or throw down a tirade today (although it’s mostly true), I’ll just suggest you check this out, original or not. Bad ass cover too!